WORK IN PROGRESS:
HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS
Jennifer M. Nations, PhD, Rebecca Samaha, MA, Peggy Peattie, PhD Candidate, Izabella Salinas, BA, and Marie-Linh Baseel
BENEFITS AND DRAWBACKS IN PROVIDING AFFORDABLE HOUSING ON THE PRIVATE MARKET: THE CASE OF SAN DIEGO’S SINGLE-ROOM OCCUPANCY HOTELS
Beginning in the mid-to-late 1800s, property owners and developers in major U.S. cities recognized that small, efficiency-sized units could be rented for cheap to impoverished and working-class urbanites. Some of these tenements, working-man hotels, and flop houses bred disease and disorder, but others functioned as designed: they provided simple, safe, and clean accommodations to people of limited means. Unlike many other U.S. cities, developers and politicians in the City of San Diego intentionally chose to preserve some of the city’s single-room occupancy hotels (SROs), and even elected to build more. This makes San Diego one of the few cities in the nation where SROs house a sizable population of low-income tenants, at least 5,000 people in the downtown area.
The San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC) has made efforts over the past several decades to regulate SROs in an attempt to preserve them in the face of redevelopment pressures. In this study, we draw on survey, interview, and geo-spatial data to describe the benefits and drawbacks in retaining this housing stock. We argue for the value of low-income housing retention in downtown specifically, citing evidence that residents benefit from living in high-opportunity areas of the city, even when they are not completely satisfied with their accommodations. We also argue that the SDHC’s attempts to preserve SRO units have been somewhat unsuccessful: the number of SRO units in San Diego declined by 25 percent between 1976 and 2020. This contrasts with SDHC records that suggest a 6 percent decline in units over the same period.
WORK IN PROGRESS:
BOOK MANUSCRIPT: WHO PAYS FOR HIGHER EDUCATION? THE POLITICS OF SHIFTING COLLEGE COSTS FROM THE STATE TO STUDENTS
I am currently focused on my book manuscript, Who Pays for Higher Education? The Politics of Shifting College Costs from the State to Students. Since the 1970s, the share of public university budgets funded by state governments has fallen while student costs have risen. No one—not students, families, policymakers, or university leadership—seems to have wanted costs to shift as much as they have. What explains the cost shift? I find that costs have not shifted at the nation’s public universities because universities are uncommonly greedy or lawmakers have given up on the mission of public higher education. I show that they have shifted because state politicians and higher education leaders built expensive public universities which taxpayers have no structural obligation to fund.
I trace the origins of the policy frameworks that enabled rapid growth for systems of autonomous, public universities. Policy frameworks are the government rules that guided the founding, development, and financing of public higher education systems. While these frameworks allowed autonomous public universities to compete in a national marketplace for faculty and students, they also left public universities vulnerable to funding cuts by providing no guarantee for legislative appropriations during economic downturns. As funding grew scarce, politicians supported public universities as they turned to tuition revenues to replace diminished state support. I show how and why state actors constructed the policy frameworks they did, and why those frameworks have prompted defunding by state lawmakers and greater reliance on tuition dollars. I fit this story into the larger stories of policy change, institutional isomorphism, and state retrenchment in American political development.
ARTICLE: LOGIC TRANSPOSITION AND POLICY INNOVATION: THE DEVELOPMENT OF NEED-BASED FINANCIAL AID IN ARIZONA AND TEXAS
After a disruptive event that forces lawmakers to consider new policy options, one source of innovation can be logic transposition. This is the process by which stakeholders apply a logic from one policy domain to another, previously disassociated, domain. Through logic transposition, politicians and their allies redefine the appropriateness and usefulness of a given policy without redefining their own interests or goals. I support this argument with an in-depth case study of policy change in two states. Specifically, I exploit the wide variation in expenditures on need-based financial aid between two states—Arizona and Texas—to explain how logic transposition led to the innovation of a new aid program in Texas while Arizona officials have maintained a minimal support program. Higher education leaders and elected officials pursued affirmative action policies in both states. Their paths diverged after 1996 when a circuit court ruling initiated a ban on affirmative action in Texas, while Arizona’s program remained legal. Texas lawmakers sought to pursue integration and diversification goals within this new legal context. They did so by transposing a logic of civil rights on to a race-neutral, need-based aid policy. Arizona lawmakers continued their path dependent trajectory of considering affordability and affirmative action policies separately given that no event challenged the logics separating these approaches.